Veterinary practitioners working in mobile practices have always had controlled substances in their practice vehicles to provide for comprehensive care of their patients. Without access to these drugs, used routinely in veterinary medicine primarily for sedation, anesthesia, and euthanasia, a veterinarian would not be able to provide the standard of care considered acceptable by state veterinary licensing boards. Veterinarians who purchase, administer or prescribe controlled substances must register their premises with the Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”). Veterinarians usually used the address of their central office as the “premises” for DEA registration purposes.
Unbeknownst to most practitioners until recently, the DEA requires individual registrations for each premise on which controlled substances are administered or dispensed. For mobile practitioners, servicing hundreds of animals and herds, that requires registering all these individual premises where these drugs would be used. From a practical, and monitary standpoint, this is impossible. More importantly, if veterinarians cannot transport controlled substances in their practice vehicles legally, they will not be able to provide adequate care, including emergency treatment, to animals, leading to unnecessary animal suffering. In addition to the harm to animals, veterinarians could be faced with claims of malpractice and/or charged with violating the veterinary practice acts in their states, if this law is not amended. The proper treatment of their patients, often requires the use of these drugs.
To rectify this anomaly and permit veterinarians to continue to provide adequate patient care, veterinarians and trade associations worked with Congress to introduce legislation that DEA indicated was required to amend the existing law, and allow for the desired outcome.
On January 8, 2014, the Senate passed the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, which Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), one of the bills original sponsors, described would “allow veterinarians to legally carry and dispense controlled substances to protect the health and welfare of the nation’s animals, ensure public safety, and safeguard the nation’s food supply.”
The House version of this bill, the Veterinary Medical Mobility Act, has not yet been passed.
Hopefully, bipartisan support of this Congressional solution will continue, the bill will pass both houses of Congress, be signed into law, and veterinarians will be able to legally provide for animals in their care, as they have done for many years.